Food Quality: 4 / 5
Credit Card Accepted?: Yes
Value: Lunch -4/5 for lunch, Happy Hour - Varies, but 5/5 for alcoholics
Lunch Special Menus
Japanese BBQ should never be cheap. You do all the cooking, so you're not paying for much beyond the quality of the ingredients. Gyu-kaku manages to offer a very wide variety of meats and vegetables in a few simple marinades without compromising the quality.
I split the Premium Party Course for two with a friend. For mere filler, the soup and salad were both better than I expected them to be. The Kobe Style Sirloin Tare was my favorite of the meats for its thinness that made it easy to cook and crisp. The Pork Belly Shio is lightly salted, and no more than a delivery vehicle for the three sauces; Spicy, sweet soy, and ponzu. The light citrus acidity of ponzu goes best on the pork belly.
I might've enjoyed the NY steak marinated in garlic had it not been so out of context. I don't think it belongs on the menu at all. There's enough Korean fusion diluting the menu, so where does this belong, and why is it smeared in garlic and oil? Most of the meats in the specials are their cheaper options; they do have a $105 Kobe course for two, but I don't much care to pay over double for 'Kobe-Style' (see: Not From Kobe) versions of the same beef.
S'mores, how authentic!
I'm not going to blast Gyu-kaku for this cheap filler, since by dessert, you should have figured out that Gyu-kaku is not concerned with being 'authentic'. S'mores are fun and nostalgiac for some, and for those who see them as tacky, or if you bringing more than a side-bitch, Gyu-kaku has the perfect second option: Get the Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake.
Ladies to the right, side-bitches to the left
20 layers of crepe dusted with matcha and served a la mode? Don't be a cheap, s'more eating fuckface and just get this dessert. And leave the discount banana split for the group of fat Wisconsin tourists taking up the next booth over.
This is a fine place to go if you want BBQ for lunch alone or with a group. It's not great, but it is good for Midtown East, and the yuppies know this, so get here before 1 or make a reservation. After lunch, even during Happy Hour, it's just another overpriced Midtown restaurant. Except with s'mores and super cheap drinks. At least at this location, you can get fucked up at lunch, go somewhere more respectable for dinner...and then if you wanted to, and I don't know why you would, come back at night and get fucked up again. Maybe you're looking for a sugar daddy, you can pick up a Japanese businessman here.
3rd street, between 44th and 45th Avenue
Food Quality: 2 / 5 Unless you like German food
Price: $15 Burger and Fries
Special: 50% off Dine-in up to $25 with the free ScoutMob app anytime except Thurs-Sat Dinner.
Credit Card Accepted?: Yes
You'll hear Midtown East described by foodies as a desolate, ugly area with the worst food choices in a borough already known for its inferior-to-Brooklyn pizza. I'm not here to argue that Midtown East is a brilliant renaissance of gastronomy, but the idea of what it means for an New York neighborhood to be food-rich or food-poor is more nuanced.
Midtown East gets its reputation because it has so many corporate franchises and mediocre restaurants. If you're not familiar with the area, you have a smaller chance of getting lucky if you walk into any place at random. But that unfortunate development is hardly unique to Midtown. Franchised eateries have displaced many independent eateries in all of Manhattan for better and for worse. It's not that the people in Midtown have bad taste, it's just that the population that dines in Midtown are either workers on lunch break looking for expedience or the timid tourists who demand familiarity (Not you, Ms. Sophisticated-Palate, but the horde of Chinese tour buses are going to Empire Garden, not Le Bernardin). In a neighborhood where people go to work, the demand is for fast, dependable food, not slow dining. You shouldn't expect the ethnic diversity of Queens or the eclectic creativity of East Village, but you'd have to be quite pretentious to believe either are required to enjoy a meal.